The Toll-Gate

The Toll-Gate is a Regency novel by Georgette Heyer, which takes place in 1817.[2] Unlike many of Heyer's historical novels which concentrate on a plucky heroine, this one follows the adventures of a male main character, an ex-captain in the British Army who has returned from the Peninsular War and finds life as a civilian rather dull. The setting for this detective/romance story is in and around a Toll-Gate in the Peak District, vastly different from the elegant backgrounds of London, Bath, Brighton, or some stately home, which characterize most of Heyer's Regency novels.

The Toll-Gate
First edition
AuthorGeorgette Heyer
Cover artistArthur Barbosa[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreRegency, Romance, Detective novel
PublisherWilliam Heinemann
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback and Paperback)
Pages288 pp

Plot introductionEdit

After acting as an aide-de-camp at the Battle of Waterloo, Jack Staple is finding civilian life tedious. Following a formal (and somewhat boring) dinner party in honour of his cousin's engagement, Jack sets out by himself on horseback to visit a more congenial friend some 60 miles away. After getting lost in the dark and rain he reaches a toll-gate where a frightened 10-year-old lad is acting as toll collector in the absence of his father. A combination of curiosity, compassion, tiredness, and dampness lead him to stay at the toll house overnight with a view to sorting out the situation in the morning.

Over the next few days Jack's circle of acquaintances rapidly expands to include a highwayman, a Bow Street runner, and the local gentry plus their devoted retainers. Other complications include a dead body, stolen treasure, and some masked villains. In the process of preventing a scandal, Jack also manages to identify the murderer, deal with the villains, retrieve the treasure, satisfy the law, provide for his friends, and resolve his own romance.

Characters in "The Toll-Gate"Edit

Major charactersEdit

  • Jack (John) Staple, ex-Captain of Dragoon Guards, 29 years old, tall and strong.
  • Sir Peter Stornaway, local squire, bed-ridden following a stroke.
  • Nell Stornaway, granddaughter to Sir Peter, 26 years old, tall.
  • Jerry Chirk, highwayman.
  • Gabriel Stogumber, Bow Street Runner.

Minor charactersEdit

  • Henry Stornaway, grandson and heir to Sir Peter, cousin to Nell.
  • Nathaniel Coate, friend to Henry.
  • Gunn, servant to Nathaniel.
  • Wilfred Babbacombe, friend to Jack, an ex-Army colleague.
  • Edward Brean, toll-gate keeper, missing from his post.
  • Ben Brean, son to Edward, 11 years old.
  • Mr Willitoft, trustee of the Derbyshire Tolls

Devoted retainersEdit

  • Rose Durward, maid to Nell
  • Huby, butler to Sir Peter
  • Winkfield, valet to Sir Peter
  • Joe Lydd, groom to Sir Peter and to Nell